My name is Clarissa Ferreira and I am a construction intern in the Phoenix office. I enjoy outside activities like hiking and off-roading—when the Arizona heat permits. I love country music, traveling and am a huge foodie. Usually—on the weekends—I can be found out at a food truck festival, sightseeing in a new city, or hanging out with my family.
I started out as an architecture and construction management dual major at the University of Texas, San Antonio, and it didn’t take me long to realize I don’t think like an architect. I just didn’t find as much passion for being artistic and creative as I’d originally thought I would. I ended up moving back to my native Arizona and taking some time off to be with my family. I am currently a senior and a construction management major at Arizona State University (ASU).
I come to McKinstry with more than six years of experience in the construction field. Before transferring to ASU, I worked as an administrative assistant (in the engineering and work management departments) and participated in “fire watch” during outages at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in Tonopah, Ariz. Fire watch was a hands-on safety experience. Staff paired with welders and pipe-fitters to go out into the shutdown unit and monitor as workers made repairs to mitigate the chance of fire.
For the past two years, I’ve also worked as a general laborer for my family’s custom residential concrete business on the weekends (to gain a well-rounded understanding of the field) while also contributing to the scheduling, estimating and bidding processes.
After leaving the nuclear plant to focus on school, I got a job at a civil engineering firm, whose main client is the City of Phoenix. I worked there for almost five years. My role included administrative, survey technician, and assistant project manager duties—everything from filing to running benchmarks to processing payroll and AP/AR to contracts, permits and document control. After my last semester at the firm, I made the decision to investigate different sectors of construction. Most of my experience is in “horizontal” design, which is roadway and streets-related. I decided to transition to the “vertical” construction sector, which is building-related.
When looking into different companies and what they had to offer, I looked for a few key qualities. The first was a strong set of values and safety culture, which for me are signs that a company cares about its employees. Another was having a strong history. Lastly, I had gained an interest in energy-related construction from taking a commissioning class, so I was also looking for a company that at least dabbled in that sector.
McKinstry having the values, culture and longevity—while also offering projects from design to operation specifically in the energy/sustainability area—was a huge plus.
When looking at the B.L.U.E. Program specifically, I was happy to see that it was filled with opportunities for growth and learning throughout its 12-week duration. The program is built for intern interaction and a holistic view of the company, regardless of which office or department we’re assigned to.
Ultimately, McKinstry put together a well-developed position proposition for me to submit to ASU, describing project-specific tasks that would help me to grow professionally and make the classroom-to-field connection. It was exactly what I was looking for, the internship was approved, and I’m happy to be interning at McKinstry’s Phoenix office this summer.